Downtown Berkeley Spotlight
Celebrating Our Community
Executive Director at Dharma College
"As a small city, Berkeley has an outsize influence at a global level; so many important initiatives have started here!"
Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us! Let’s start with an introduction. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what brought you to Berkeley and your association with Dharma College?
I am the eldest daughter of Venerable Tarthang Tulku, who is the founder of Dharma College. My father came to Berkeley in 1969. He was the first Tibetan to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen in the State of California. Ever since the late 1960s, our family have considered Berkeley to be our home.
Last July, I was asked to become the new Executive Director of Dharma College, succeeding Robin Caton. The basic mission stays the same: to introduce new ways of understanding the mind to a secular Western audience. In taking on this new position, I’ve decided to develop a new co-working space within the College. We call it Coworking with Wisdom. All Coworking members will have access to profound teachings of body and mind, so that they can develop their full potential in connection with their work.
I am very excited about building a community in Berkeley who believes in working with wisdom. Coworking members will be able to attend a range of classes dedicated to body, language and mind during their work day. We think we can be a refuge for those who wish to work with wisdom and in a spirit of harmony. I believe that when you find meaning in your own life, you will spontaneously care about others as well.
I grew up in Berkeley in the 1960s during the consciousness revolution which has been associated with the East Bay. I now find myself moved to create a community of individuals who care about exploring an understanding of mind so that we can generate the wisdom necessary to share in ways that truly benefit others. I’d like to reach out to groups who are involved in transformation so that we may find meaning together, and share in a helpful environment for our understanding to grow. There are many issues facing the world that deserve caring for!
This is such a beautiful space. Could you tell us a little bit about the building and how long it’s been the Dharma College?
Our landmark building used to be called Armstrong College. We purchased the building in 2010. It was founded in the 1920s by J Evan Armstrong, its original mission. As the frieze above the entrance on Harold Way says, its goal was to inculcate the highest standards and ideals in business. This is remarkably close to our mission. We hope the building will once again act as important center where meaning and work will come together in unique and innovative ways.
"I believe that when you find meaning in your own life, you will spontaneously care about others as well."
There seems to be a considerable Buddhist community here in Berkeley. Why do you think that is?
Berkeley has always been associated with the search for meaning and deep inner exploration. After all, the city is named after Bishop Berkeley, the great 18th century idealist. Many Buddhist groups from all over Asia have found their way here. We should also mention our neighboring building, Mangalam Center on Allston Way, which has a program of public events and focuses on scholarly research, and our sister organization, the Nyingma Institute northeast of the UC campus, which was launched 45 years ago. Then there is a strong Buddhist Studies program at the UC campus.
You have big plans for the school. Tell us about them.
Dharma College is dedicated to the exploration of mind, language and body. Our ground floor is for Coworking with Wisdom members, who will have access to deep and enriching classes in yoga, mindfulness, qigong, Tibetan and Kum Nye (subtle energy movement) and also spiritually-based business methods such as skillful means. On the upper floor the College itself will offer classes on the nature of mind and the extraordinary potential of being. In the lower level we have more space for our coworking members, with a special emphasis on projects linking technology and consciousness. We also offer a 40-person presentation room and formal boardroom available to groups who share a similar outlook. Operating in a landmark building in downtown Berkeley is a great privilege and we want to share it with the community. We hope that Dharma College will become a hub for innovation and exploration with deep meaning and purpose for everyone.
What are some events or programs coming up that you would like people to know about?
Apart from our websites, the other way is to drop into our Lotus Bookstore at 2222 Harold Way which is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-3 pm. We also have brochures describing our activities outside the College every day.
What do you like the most about being in Downtown Berkeley?
As Berkeley born and bred, I love the diversity and multicultural aspect of our wonderful city. I love the beautiful surroundings of nature and community. I feel that Berkeley has many blessings. It supports a community of people who are invested in both the inner and outer world. As a small city, Berkeley has an outsize influence at a global level; so many important initiatives have started here! We hope that Coworking with Wisdom at Dharma College will be one of them.